Questions You Should Be Asking Your Real Estate Agent, But Aren't

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If you're in the market for a new home, you know there's a lot of information to process and gather. And if you're working with a real estate agent, chances are you're leaning on them for advice, expertise and answers. But are you asking all the right questions? Depending on where you're home shopping, agents are legally unable to answer everything, but there might be vital answers you are missing out on by skipping certain questions.

We came across an Ask Reddit thread (Editor's note: the link also has some colorful language along with helpful answers) asking real estate agents for what questions buyers should be asking them, but aren't. We found some interesting ideas to think about. And we want you to chime in to tell us what you'd add — or take away — from the list!

Is this property in a flood zone?

"Just because it's not on the water, doesn't mean the property is flood free..." — User Maxwyfe

Are there any night trains and what are the flight paths?

User indubinfo brings up a very good point. Are there noises that might get in the way of a good night's sleep?

What is this home going to be like on resale?

"Granted, if you had a crystal ball to predict the real estate market, you would be a millionaire. But some homes are always challenging no matter what (i.e: one bedroom on the main floor, too many stairs, weird layout, small yard)." — User ismelllikecoconuts

A licensed commercial Realtor had a lot of advice on the subject:

They should be asking for references from past clients

Buyers should be asking questions about financing, title work, inspections, anything the agent notices about the property
What the agent believes it should be worth, what the agent believes a good negotiation strategy is, and how the agent thinks you should proceed based on a long term real estate strategy.

You should ask about the sellers
What is their story? Why are they selling? How motivated are they? See what you can uncover there. For example someone moving across the country is much more likely to negotiate in furniture. Someone that works in construction is much more likely to agree to a laundry list of fixes.

Ask them for references on suppliers
They should be able to send you to a good inspector for instance, or an attorney if needed, or contractors for any issues.

Ask them for quotes
If the furnace is old as hell find out what it will cost to do a replacement, even if you don't intend to do it until it dies.

Ask them to find out if the property is in a historic district, a HOA, or any other type of district that will restrict your use.
For HOA/COA's etc., ask them for copies of the books, six months of minutes and the by-laws. You are looking for major issues, and major upcoming expenses. You also want to see that is has sufficient reserves to match the repair schedule. They should have an engineering report showing the life of most items. Review six months of minutes from the city council/commission. Know what is going on around the property.

Ask for anything you have to sign well ahead of time
Read it ahead of time, then review it with your agent. They should be able to explain it step-by-step, and let you know when you may want to consult a lawyer if things are getting complicated.

→ So what do you think about the questions above? If you've been through the home buying process before, which questions did you ask and which did you wish you would have asked? What would you add or take away from the suggestions above? Put your advice in the comments below to help folks going through the buying process right now!

*Editor's note: Some original suggestions edited for clarity, grammar or length.

(Image credits: Tanya Lacourse)

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